Cantor Julius Blackman - Founder
Born in 1913, and raised in Chicago, Julius began his singing career in the Orthodox shul his family atended with a Cantor who had come from Poland. He later sang in the Chicago Opera Chorus. In Southern California, he studied with Cantors Josef Roman Cycowski and Paul Discount. He moved to Los Angeles with his wife to finish college. After running out of money he audition for the position of cantor which had opened up in the Valley. He got the job and remained there for 11 years. He also served as founding President of the West Coast region of the Cantors Assembly and created a innovative music program for the University of Judiusm.
In 1960, Ner Tamid Synagogue, San Francisco, had an opening for a Cantor. He got the job and remained there for three years. Circumstances forced him to look for work elsewhere and despite his musical background, he accepted the position of Executive Director of Hebrew Free Loan of San Francisco. Under his leadership, the Hebrew Free Loan of San Francisco grew into the large organization it is today. From 1897, when funds were pledged at 25 cents a month until they had a kitty of $50.00 and could begin loaning money out to the community, until today when funds are in excess of $12,500,000.00 with many programs to help the Jewish Community at large. He remained at Hebrew Free Loan until 1990.
In 1982, in Detroit, Cantor Julius Blackman, along with Harry Adler of Phoenix, Henry Leopold of Detroit, Jerome Frankel of Cleveland and Mark Meltzer of Los Angeles formed the International Association of Hebrew Free Loans. In the begining calling the organization Association of Hebrew Free Loans. The founding Fathers felt that all Hebrew Free Loans could benefit from an exchange of information. Julius Blackman and Henry Leopold were elected Co-Presidents, with Henry concentrating on the volunteers and Julius working with the professionals, Harry Adler, treasurer and Mark Meltzer, secretary. The founding members of the Association took regional parts of the United States and recruited members for International. By 1990, there were 28 member organizations of International, including Canada and Israel. In 1991, the orgainization was renamed the International Association of Hebrew Free Loans.
Now 99, Julius is still very active and alert. He lives in San Fransciso near his children. To quote Julius, sums up his philosophy of life: “As the song says, Just keep on doing what you’re doing. Keep on doing good deeds and paying attention to the fact that we’re really dependent on one another. Society is made up of people of all ages and faiths and all degrees of income, highand low. If we can help out to whatever degree we can, we should. That’s it.”